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  1. #1
    matt brown's Avatar
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    Default Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Does anyone know of a current requirement, either code or manufacturer requirement for:

    1) Having "safety wires" on the attic access pull down ladder springs.

    2) Attic access pull down ladder needing to have a handrail.

    3) Attic access pull down ladder cover needing fire-guard protection when a gas furnace or water heater is located in the attic. The attic ladder system is located in the hall way of the home.

    Regards,

    Matt Brown

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by matt brown View Post
    Does anyone know of a current requirement, either code or manufacturer requirement for:

    1) Having "safety wires" on the attic access pull down ladder springs.

    Nope. If that is required, I've never heard of it.

    2) Attic access pull down ladder needing to have a handrail.
    To my knowledge all manufactured pull down stairs have so-called 'handrails' built-in, and, yes, I would think it would be a requirement as, in some distance sense, it is a "stairway" (which is why most are referred to as pull-down stairs ), and "stairways" require a handrail.

    3) Attic access pull down ladder cover needing fire-guard protection when a gas furnace or water heater is located in the attic. The attic ladder system is located in the hall way of the home.
    Nope, protecting the garage from a fire in the attic is not what the separation is about, however, most pull-down stairs are not wide enough to use for access, nor are they heavy duty enough (weight limit-wise) to be used as such.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
    Linda Swearingen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    I'm not familiar with such a safety strap. Plus, unless it's a new house, the building codes don't apply. Common sense does, though, and it would be worth a comment that the ladder is not the best access for maintenance for the water heater or any other items in that attic.


  4. #4
    Darin Redding's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    I've installed pull-down attic stairs in the past, and I've never seen one with safety wires.

    Interesting note: some of the standard attic stairs I've seen are not wide enough to allow access to replace the mechanical items in the attic i.e. HVAC units, water heaters, etc. Don't know how this was ever allowed, but I simply make note of it.

    Linda - so if the ladder is the only means of access, would you recommend adding another access point?

    Jerry - The fire separation question is interesting. If there is living space below the attic ladder, which seems to be the case with Matt, why would it not be required for the ladder panel (the part you see from below when the ladder is in the closed position) to be of the same fire-resistive material as the 5/8 sheetrock of the adjacent ceiling? I've installed these ladders which are manufactured with a simple 1/4" luan panel hmmm...


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Darin Redding View Post
    Interesting note: some of the standard attic stairs I've seen are not wide enough to allow access to replace the mechanical items in the attic i.e. HVAC units, water heaters, etc. Don't know how this was ever allowed, but I simply make note of it.
    FINALLY! Some one picked up on that, I've been pointing that out for quite some time.

    Now add this to your list for them: Check the weight rating and limitation of the pull down stairs, most are not rated enough for a worker AND the equipment either.

    Jerry - The fire separation question is interesting.
    Yes, "fire separation" IS an interesting question, one that is not applicable to a single-family dwelling, but, go for it anyway, after all ... it is interesting.

    If there is living space below the attic ladder, which seems to be the case with Matt, why would it not be required for the ladder panel (the part you see from below when the ladder is in the closed position) to be of the same fire-resistive material as the 5/8 sheetrock of the adjacent ceiling? I've installed these ladders which are manufactured with a simple 1/4" luan panel hmmm...
    There is no requirement for the ceiling to be anything. What makes you think there is 5/8 Type X in the ceiling?

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  6. #6
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Plus, unless it's a new house, the building codes don't apply.
    Linda: That is not necessarily so, depending on the the adopted codes and AHJ's opinion in the area.


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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Swearingen View Post
    Plus, unless it's a new house, the building codes don't apply.
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Linda: That is not necessarily so, depending on the the adopted codes and AHJ's opinion in the area.
    Aaron,

    Some AHJ do not even use building codes (which is what you were saying anyway - or so I think).

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Swearingen View Post
    Common sense does,
    Linda,

    BOTH building codes and common sense apply.

    That is not saying that all building codes make for good common sense or that common sense makes for good building codes.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Jerry,
    You keep calling it a stair, but they are ladders. At least the label on mine says it's a ladder.
    They all look like ladders. They don't look like stairs.
    Back to your normal broadcasting.


  9. #9
    Michael Schirmer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    807.1 Attic access.
    In buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction, an attic access opening shall be provided to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8 m2) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or greater. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches (559 mm by 762 mm) and shall be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening. See Section M1305.1.3 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located in attics.
    M1305.1.3 Appliances in attics.
    Attics containing appliances requiring access shall be provided with an opening and a clear and unobstructed passageway large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance, but not less than 30 inches (762 mm) high and 22 inches (559 mm) wide and not more than 20 feet (6096 mm) in length when measured along the centerline of the passageway from the opening to the appliance. The passageway shall have continuous solid flooring in accordance with Chapter 5 not less than 24 inches (610 mm) wide. A level service space at least 30 inches (762 mm) deep and 30 inches (762 mm) wide shall be present along all sides of the appliance where access is required. The clear access opening dimensions shall be a minimum of 20 inches by 30 inches (508 mm by 762 mm), where such dimensions are large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance.
    Exception: The passageway and level service space are not required where the appliance is capable of being serviced and removed through the required opening.


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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Jerry,
    You keep calling it a stair, but they are ladders. At least the label on mine says it's a ladder.
    They all look like ladders. They don't look like stairs.
    Back to your normal broadcasting.
    Jack,

    You are correct, they are ladders ...

    ... that term started back when they were first called "disappearing stairs" and were NOT the folding type, but were actually "stairs", in one piece, which slid up into the attic. We had one in the house we lived in at Ft. Pierce, Fl when I as a teenager .. THOSE were STAIRS ... but the folding types are "ladders".

    Note to self ... quite calling them sub-stairs ... they are "pull-down folding-ladders".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Schirmer View Post
    807.1 Attic access.
    In buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction, an attic access opening shall be provided to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8 m2) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or greater. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches (559 mm by 762 mm) and shall be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening. See Section M1305.1.3 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located in attics.
    M1305.1.3 Appliances in attics.
    Attics containing appliances requiring access shall be provided with an opening and a clear and unobstructed passageway large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance, but not less than 30 inches (762 mm) high and 22 inches (559 mm) wide and not more than 20 feet (6096 mm) in length when measured along the centerline of the passageway from the opening to the appliance. The passageway shall have continuous solid flooring in accordance with Chapter 5 not less than 24 inches (610 mm) wide. A level service space at least 30 inches (762 mm) deep and 30 inches (762 mm) wide shall be present along all sides of the appliance where access is required. The clear access opening dimensions shall be a minimum of 20 inches by 30 inches (508 mm by 762 mm), where such dimensions are large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance.
    Exception: The passageway and level service space are not required where the appliance is capable of being serviced and removed through the required opening.
    Michael,

    ... and your comment and reason for posting that is ... ?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Jerry,
    You keep calling it a stair, but they are ladders. At least the label on mine says it's a ladder.
    They all look like ladders. They don't look like stairs.
    Back to your normal broadcasting.
    Jack: Perhaps so, but in Tennessee, they call them Memphis Folding Stairs.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    A.D. - maybe in "your" part of Tennessee they do, but not in mine. They are called ladders here.
    Memphis is like a different country compared to Knoxville.


  14. #14
    Rob Ferguson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Jack: Perhaps so, but in Tennessee, they call them Memphis Folding Stairs.
    Do the folks in Memphis think they invented those?


  15. #15
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Ferguson View Post
    Do the folks in Memphis think they invented those?
    RB: No, they have just build more of them than anyone else on the planet. So then, I do believe that have a very big dog in the fight revolving around what to call them.


  16. #16
    Denny L West's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Ladders Or steps dose not matter you still have to take steps to get there . Its what ever you call it as long as its accessible .


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny L West View Post
    Ladders Or steps dose not matter you still have to take steps to get there . Its what ever you call it as long as its accessible .

    Not really as stairs need to meet different requirements than ladders do.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  18. #18
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Not really as stairs need to meet different requirements than ladders do.
    JP: True, but out beyond the concept of Code Land black and white lies a field of total grayness. Meet us there.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Attic Access & Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: True, but out beyond the concept of Code Land black and white lies a field of total grayness. Meet us there.
    Aaron,

    See that light off in the distance?

    That's not a lighthouse, that's me waving my light back and forth showing you the way out of the grayness fog and into the light where white shines through the black darkness and makes the grayness go away.

    Track straight toward that light and you will be safe, and if the currents cause drift and confusion, just keeping heading toward the light ... I'll leave the light on for ya, as Tom Bodet would say.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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